Within 1 day to 2 weeks after getting chancroid, a person will get a small bump in the genitals. The bump becomes an ulcer within a day after it first appears. The ulcer:
- Ranges in size from 1/8 inch to 2 inches in diameter
- Is painful
- Is soft
- Has sharply defined borders
- Has a base that is covered with a gray or yellowish-gray material
- Has a base that bleeds easily if it is banged or scraped
About half of infected men have only a single ulcer. Women often have four or more ulcers. The ulcers appear in specific locations.
Common locations in men are:
- Groove behind the head of the penis
- Shaft of the penis
- Head of the penis
- Opening of the penis
In women, the most common location for ulcers is the outer lips of the vagina (labia majora). "Kissing ulcers" may develop. Kissing ulcers are those that occur on opposite surfaces of the labia.
Other areas, such as the inner vagina lips (labia minora), the area between the genitals and the anus (perineal area), and the inner thighs may also be involved. The most common symptoms in women are pain with urination and intercourse.
The ulcer may look like the sore of primary syphilis (chancre).
About half of the people who are infected with a chancroid develop enlarged inguinal lymph nodes. These are nodes located in the fold between the leg and the lower abdomen.
In half of people who have swelling of the inguinal lymph nodes, the nodes break through the skin and cause draining abscesses. The swollen lymph nodes and abscesses are also called buboes.